SBJ/November 5 - 11, 2001/Coast To Coast

Coast to Coast

ATLANTA

 Peach Bowl tickets on sale

Tickets to the 2001 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl have gone on sale. Tickets are $55 or $65 for the game to be played Dec. 31 at the Georgia Dome. Tickets are also available for the Corporate Tailgate Party (for $45). And for the first time ever, club-level ticket packages are available to the general public.

CHARLOTTE

 CIAA says coliseum not good enough

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association selected Raleigh over Charlotte for its next three men's and women's postseason tournaments. Charlotte bid aggressively for the event, worth an estimated $10 million in economic impact — the same as an Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament. CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry said the two cities were comparable with one exception: "The major difference is the arena." Raleigh's Entertainment and Sports Arena opened in 1999 and includes 61 luxury suites. Charlotte Coliseum, which opened in 1988, has 12. The Raleigh arena also has premium club seating, while Charlotte's venue has none. Mike Crum, managing director of the coliseum authority in Charlotte, said, "People are looking us right in the eye and saying your building doesn't match up."

 Bunting backs game in Queen City

The man responsible for reviving North Carolina football, Tar Heels coach John Bunting, delighted a highly partisan crowd at an Ericsson Stadium speech last month. He made fellow alum and current Charlotte Regional Sports Commission chief Jeff Beaver happy by endorsing an appeal to bring a UNC football game to the Queen City sometime in the next few years. Asked about the school's fierce schedule this season — Texas, Oklahoma, Florida State and Clemson — Bunting remains bullish. "Really, who wants to come watch us play Furman? No disrespect, but we want to play the very best. People tell me we need to get Furman [which beat UNC two years ago] back on the schedule, but that's not something I'm looking to do."

CHICAGO

 Fire’s attendance up

The Chicago Fire’s overall attendance total increased by more than 22 percent, drawing an average of 16,388 per game, during the team’s fourth Major League Soccer campaign. The Fire’s season-ticket sales also rose by 34 percent, the highest in the team’s history. In addition, the Fire’s group sales per game jumped 43 percent over last year.

CINCINNATI

 Conference USA at Firstar in 2002

The 2002 Conference USA tournament will be held at the Firstar Center in Cincinnati after a contract was signed Oct. 26. The location for the tournament was in jeopardy after The Nederlander Group Co. purchased the arena in bankruptcy proceedings in June. Officials said they spent the last few months working out details on how to restructure the financial package at the tournament.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

 Speedway settles suit over canceled race

Texas Motor Speedway has settled a lawsuit over the cancellation of the May 8 Firestone Firehawk 600 by Championship Auto Racing Teams in Fort Worth. TMS and CART said the terms of the deal prevented them from discussing it. The track owner had sought reimbursement of a $2.1 million race purse and sanction fee it had paid to CART, costs of organizing and operating the race, and other damages. CART canceled the race hours before its start, citing reports by drivers that they had suffered vertigo and disorientation while driving as fast as 230 mph through the track's turns. TMS had said CART was responsible for regulating the speed of the cars.

DENVER

 Football nets $3,800 for victims

A football autographed by the 2001 Denver Broncos fetched $3,800 on eBay as part of the online company's "Auction for America" campaign. The proceeds from "Auction for America" go to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Broncos football was donated by Gov. Bill Owens and the Broncos and attracted 38 bids, beginning at $199.99.

 Turf sale's $30,000 going to relief fund

Proceeds from the Oct. 27 sale of the Denver Broncos' old turf at Mile High Stadium netted $30,000. The money will be donated to the fire and police relief fund in New York City. According to city officials, turf buyers traveled from as far away as California, Texas and the state of Washington. Although the turf is gone, the Metropolitan Football Stadium District still has some seats from the old stadium to sell through Saturday.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.

 Unity Games benefit victims

The D.C. United and MetroStars played to a 2-2 tie and the WUSA’s New York Power defeated Mia Hamm’s Washington Freedom 3-2 in the Unity Games doubleheader at Giants Stadium on Oct. 28. All proceeds from the games will benefit victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Between the matches, members of the New York City police and fire departments and the Port Authority were honored in ceremonies. Max von Essen, son of the New York City fire commissioner, sang the National Anthem.

HOUSTON

 Houston 2012 hires PR firm

The Houston 2012 Foundation has hired Weber Shandwick Worldwide to help shape its message as it seeks to win the Olympic Games in 2012. The foundation signed a one-year, $250,000 contract on Oct. 19 with Weber Shandwick, the same public relations firm that helped Beijing win the Games in 2008. Susan Bandy, president of the Houston 2012 Foundation, said she hired the company, which had approached her. "They felt like Houston had a very strong technical bid and they were very interested in working with us," Bandy said.

 Houston Race Park adds golf tourney

The Sam Houston Race Park is adding a second sport to the Dec. 1 Texas Champions Day for good measure. The horse track will host its first Texas Champions Day Golf Tournament at the Wind Rose Golf Club on Nov. 30 benefiting NTRA Charities.

INDIANAPOLIS

 Small firm inks big Olympics deal

A small Carmel, Ind., company signed a major deal to provide software that will catalog and archive all video feeds shot at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. International Sports Broadcasting, the Spanish firm handling broadcasting at the Olympics, has chosen technology pioneered by Imagine Products Inc. to help organize, catalog, store and retrieve hundreds of hours of video shot at the Games. ISB will use one of Imagine Products' signature software packages, Imagine Mine, for logging and archiving video feeds that will be used by networks and broadcasters around the world.

 ABA announces 7 franchise locations

The Indianapolis-based ABA professional basketball league announced it will begin its second season in December with seven teams, including the Indiana Legends. Other franchises include Kansas City, Southern California, Detroit, Phoenix, Northern Kentucky and Westchester, N.Y.

JACKSONVILLE

 First Tee, Edwin Watts team up

The First Tee announced a promotional partnership with Edwin Watts Golf, billed as the world's largest privately owned golf retail operation. Golf players can bring used clubs to any participating Edwin Watts Golf store, which will deliver them to the nearest First Tee facility for distribution to young golfers in need of equipment. Based in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Edwin Watts Golf has 49 stores across the Southeast. The First Tee is a World Golf Foundation initiative that provides affordable golf programs.

MIAMI

 Heat offers tix to police, firefighters

The Miami Heat is extending a special offer to police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties for free tickets to a night of hoops action as the Heat takes on the Seattle SuperSonics Tuesday. The team said the promotion is to honor those who serve and protect the south Florida community.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

 Twins to sell Puckett dolls

The Minnesota Twins will sell a special 10-year anniversary Kirby Puckett “World Series Hero” bobblehead doll beginning this month with proceeds going to the Puckett Scholars program at the University of Minnesota and to the Twins Community Fund. The doll will sell for $17.95 at Rainbow Foods stores and Twins Pro Shops in four locations.

 Gopher bobbleheads in 5 giveaways

The University of Minnesota announced five dates for Goldie Gopher bobblehead doll giveaways: 10,000 dolls will be presented at each of the five events, individualized for each event. The first giveaway was at Saturday’s Ohio State game. Rainbow Foods will sell 5,000 more of the dolls at its area stores. The dolls also will be given away at a men’s basketball game (Nov. 12) and hockey game (Friday), at a February wrestling event and at the Baseball Classic on March 4.

NEW YORK

 JumboTrons cover World Series


Major League Baseball and Tishman Speyer Properties, owners of Rockefeller Center, teamed up to provide the public with coverage of World Series Games 3-5 via two 11-by-14-foot JumboTrons outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The JumboTrons, surrounded by 32 Yankee team flags, provided Rockefeller Center visitors, tenants and tourists with coverage of the Fox telecasts of last week’s three Yankees-Diamondbacks games at Yankee Stadium.

PHILADELPHIA

 Villanova to install AstroPlay

Villanova University has a deal with Southwest Recreational Industries Inc. for a new artificial playing surface at its football stadium. The $800,000 cost for the project will be split between Villanova and Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp., which owns the Philadelphia Charge women’s soccer team that also plays at the stadium. The new playing surface will be Southwest’s AstroPlay product, which will be installed this winter after Villanova’s football season ends.

PITTSBURGH

 Giant bottles pour it on at Heinz

Two gigantic ketchup bottles made their debut at Heinz Field Oct. 29. The 35-foot, 8,000-pound neon and fiberglass Heinz Ketchup bottles were placed atop the Heinz Field scoreboard before the game between the Steelers and their division rivals, the Tennessee Titans. A four-day, 2,100-mile journey brought the massive bottles to Pittsburgh. While the new scoreboard may be eye-catching on its own, it’s what the ketchup bottles do that makes it unique. The two bottles on either side of the JumboTron virtually “pour” onto the screen when the Steelers or the University of Pittsburgh Panthers drive into the “Heinz Red Zone” — the area between the 20-yard line and the goal line. The pouring action triggers animation on the JumboTron.

SACRAMENTO

 River Cats won’t raise ticket prices

The Sacramento River Cats say they aren’t raising ticket prices for the 2002 season, which starts April 4 with an away game in Nashville. Tickets average less than $10 for the Class AAA baseball team, which is an affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Season tickets, group tickets and nightly luxury suites went on sale the week of Oct. 29. The River Cats have won the South Division championship of the Pacific Coast League for the last two years. The team played for 901,214 fans at Raley Field this year, the best attendance recorded by any minor league team since 1994.

SAN DIEGO

 Vasgersian to join Padres, Channel 4

Cox Communications’ Channel 4 San Diego, which annually produces and televises about 140 Padres games, announced that Matt Vasgersian will be its new TV play-by-play announcer. Vasgersian worked the last five seasons in the same capacity for the Milwaukee Brewers. He will replace Mel Proctor, who did Padres play-by-play on Channel 4 San Diego for five seasons.

 Golf trade show postponed

Golf Fest 2002, an industry trade show originally planned for the Del Mar Fairgrounds the weekend of Feb. 1-3, has been postponed until March 15-17 so it won’t conflict with the rescheduled Super Bowl on Feb. 3. More than 125 exhibitors, including club manufacturers, apparel firms, and clubs and resorts, are expected to be represented.

SAN JOSE

 CyberRays, Spirit to play for Red Cross

The Bay Area CyberRays and the San Diego Spirit will play an exhibition match at Stanford University’s New Maloney Field near Palo Alto on Thursday to raise money for the American Red Cross. No admission will be charged to at the 2,000-seat facility, but donations will be solicited from fans.

SEATTLE

 Racing team sues ex-employee

Seattle cell phone billionaire Craig McCaw’s America’s Cup racing team filed suit against a former employee, alleging he tried to sell the team’s secrets to a rival sailing club. OneWorld Challenge, the McCaw- and Paul Allen-backed entry in the America’s Cup race, filed suit in King County Superior Court after Larry Ellison, founder of software giant Oracle Corp., alerted McCaw that a former employee offered to sell him information on OneWorld’s boat design and training regimen. The suit claims the former employee offered to sell Ellison OneWorld’s hull design, crew training schedule, team member eligibility and construction data for $2.5 million. Ellison refused to buy the secrets and immediately alerted OneWorld Challenge, according to court papers.

ST. LOUIS

 Hockey’s River Otters for sale

The Missouri River Otters are for sale. The minor league hockey team, one of the anchors of the Family Arena in St. Charles, has been courting potential buyers for the last two months, according to people familiar with the team. Although it has lost money in its first two years, the United Hockey League franchise is expected to bring a higher price than the $750,000 league franchise fee. The 10-year-old league has 18 teams.

TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG

 Devil Rays cut prices for next season

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays will reduce prices on 9,500 seats and close off the upper deck of Tropicana Field for most games next season. Season tickets will no longer be available for the upper deck, which will be opened only for games where higher-than-average attendance is expected. Lower-level box seats will be reduced from $30 to $25, while terrace box seats will decrease from $23 to $19. The Rays averaged about 17,000 fans a game last season, less than 40 percent of stadium capacity. The team sold about 10,000 season tickets this year.

TORONTO

 Jordan sparks first sellout

The Toronto Raptors got their first taste of the Michael Jordan effect, 2001-02 edition, when 19,800 fans turned out Oct. 25 to see the Washington Wizards take on the Raptors at Air Canada Centre. It was the Raptors’ first preseason sellout in team history.

 Schwarz willing if price is right

Toronto Argonauts owner Sherwood Schwarz said he is willing to consider offers for the team, and a sale could be complete before the 2002 Canadian Football League season if the purchase price is right. Schwarz, who lives in New York, expects to lose between $1.3 million and $2 million on the Argos this season. He has been looking for a Toronto partner to buy into the team and share operating costs, but until recently had resisted the notion of selling the franchise outright.

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